Dealing with Toxic Managers

A note to Boards of Directors as well as Presidents & CEOs. Please get your heads out of the proverbial sands and start dealing with that toxic manager in your organization who is de-motivating your employees, causing high levels of disengagement, forcing good people to quit and reeking havoc on your company’s long-term interests. Yes, this manager might have solid business skills and what looks like an excellent track record – but your company will pay a huge price for the path of destruction that he will inevitably create.

The career trajectories of these egotistical bullies are often similar. They start their employment gig with your organizations with guns a-blazing. They have pre-determined agendas and will stop at nothing to achieve their objectives. They don’t care at all about your organization’s employees – even those loyal, dedicated ones who have always produced and form the backbone of your company’s culture. The toxic managerial bully only sees them as pawns in a game who are disposable and useful only if they can help him accomplish his goals. These goals usually involve money and his bonus, stock options and other financial incentives.

The toxic manager bully will steamroll over anyone who gets in her way. She will likely stay in your organization for a few years and then abruptly depart. She will tell future employers about the amazing business results she achieved with your organization – that are only short term in nature. She will conveniently ignore the fact that these gains were short-lived and came at a huge long term cost as your most talented employees quit, the organization was left in chaos and long term business results turned out to be disastrous.

Chances are that you on the Board of Directors or Presidents & CEOs will indeed bury your heads in the sand while these bullies devastate your organizations. You will selectively look at the toxic manager’s business results while ignoring that he is harming your organization’s precious culture and long term interests. You have a personal stake in the bully’s success and your ego prevents you from seeing the reality of the situation. Wake up! Open your eyes, start to interact with employees, listen intently and be aware of the fact that employees will be reluctant to talk because they are being bullied.

Neuroscience teaches us that these toxic manager bullies turn on the “fight or flight” regions in the brains of your employees and the price they pay – in terms of stress, anxiety, decreased self-confidence, burn-out, fatigue, mood disorders and other health-related issues – is enormous. You have a fiduciary, business and moral obligation to recognize your hiring mistake and deal with the situation swiftly and without hesitation.

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